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Intercultural Communication: Self-Awareness’ Importance Coursework

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Updated: Jun 7th, 2022

Respect and understanding lie in the basis of all intercultural communications. In order to understand the importance of this notion, people should be able to look at their actions from a third-person view. There are six imperatives of intercultural communication, which are crucial for the further evolution of human society. While all of these imperatives have their importance in the communication process, in my opinion, self-awareness imperative holds the highest position among them. In this paper, I would like to discuss what challenges a person might encounter during intercultural communication and why self-awareness lies in the roots of it.

Contacts with other cultures are one of the crucial ways of expanding one’s horizons and get life experience of the utmost value. People across the globe have developed different cultures, two of which can never be identical. However, this fact creates a potential issue as well: people can find other cultures to be shocking. Ethnocentrism is not an extraordinary phenomenon in human society, people do tend to think that the norms of their culture are the right lifestyle for everyone (Martin & Nakayama, 2018). Martin and Nakayama (2018) argue that “to be surprised or even taken aback by unfamiliar customs is not unexpected” (p. 41). It is not an objectively negative notion by itself, but it is vital for a person to react in a reasonable way to such differences.

By gaining an insight into one’s development, social surroundings, privileges, and cultural positions that a person holds, people can relate to their issues, emotions, and follow their way of thinking. However, to understand it, a person must be able to connect to the lives of others and to observe these processes in other people. To do so, a person first must discover their origins, cultural connotations that formed their personality, and other factors that may differ from one nation to another.

In the past, it has been challenging to obtain such a trait. Malau-Aduli et al. (2019) argue that “sensitivity and communication skills that may not be easily acquired in environments with smaller population density” (p. 6). However, in modern society, people have the ability to communicate virtually with anyone in the world with no obstacles or delays. It makes intercultural communications, through which they encounter differences in other people’s cultures, accessible, and the importance of studying different cultures evermore vital for peaceful and meaningful interactions.

The opportunities to experience different cultures are available to most people in modern countries. Moreover, cross-cultural interactions may occur on the Internet without any indication, and it might be shocking to unprepared users. Such situations can easily lead to aggression from people who are not familiar with other cultures. However, even if a person does not have a deep understanding of the culture of his or her interlocutor, respect and patience toward differences between them will lead to a productive conversation.

This potential issue signifies that self-awareness holds the utmost importance of self-awareness in intercultural communications. Knowing one’s cultural values, their stems and meaning allow people to trace back the same processes that happened with people from other cultures. Malau-Aduli et al. (2019) conclude that “self-awareness of an individual’s intercultural competence level is a crucial first step that triggers appropriate behavioral adjustments to cultural differences” (p. 8). Behaviors, views on the world, social, and cultural values come from the culture a person was raised in, therefore, understanding different cultures allows people to be more empathetic with people outside of their social circle.

A vital step is to abstain from the judgment of other cultures, compare their roots and precursors with yours, and understand their importance to the person one communicates with. A person should be able to take an unbiased look at the cultural life of others through observations, interactions, and by participating in their activities. It is a necessary step in forming one’s world views, which, in the modern world, should not be confined to the local community and its culture.

People across the globe live in vastly different social and economic situations, political systems in countries with varying norms of behavior and other social constructs. Those who realize the existence of these boundaries and can overcome them can vastly benefit from cross-cultural interactions, for example, by participating in student exchange programs or by signing contracts with companies abroad.

In conclusion, self-awareness is a necessary quality for people in modern society. It leads to the enrichment of a person’s views, lowers aggression, and provides a stable ground for relationships. Moreover, self-awareness raises one’s competence, erases harmful biases and stereotypes, and gives more opportunities in life. Martin and Nakayama (2018) summarize that “the self-awareness imperative involves increasing understanding of our own location in larger social, political, and historical contexts” (p. 72). By realizing one’s own cultural origins, position, and privileges, a person can reflect on the values of other people, relate to their situation, understand, and accept their differences. Respect is not something people have to earn, but something people have to show when interacting with others.

References

Malau-Aduli, B.S., Ross, S. & Adu, M.D. Perceptions of intercultural competence and institutional intercultural inclusiveness among first-year medical students: A 4-year study. BMC Medical Education, 19. Web.

Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2018). Intercultural communication in contexts (7th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

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